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The literature and media commentary indicate some confusion or ambi- guity about the nature of the ethical demands which attach to sport, given the different contexts in which sport is played, its association with play and the different ways in which the concept of 'sport' is used and has been used in the past. As a consequence the claim that professional athletes have a special obligation to act as role models for their fans and the community more generally is a matter of debate and disagreement. This chapter argues that disagreement is to be expected because the meanings attached to sport overlap and interconnect, and in some cases conflict. Deciding whether or not professional athletes should accept and respond to the designation of role model, both within the sporting arena but beyond it, requires a recognition of the complex nature of sport and of the obligations that can be taken to attach to its different forms. Further research to examine claims in the literature that competing imperatives might have an impact on the nature of athletes' capacity for ethical reasoning would provide clarity. Effective ethical decision-making in this context must be founded on recognising the competing imperatives associated with sport in different contexts; but it must also recognise the rights of professional athletes, their preparedness to respond to ethical demands and the responsibilities of those who contract them to play in assisting them.


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